News / Middle East

    Will Egypt Unrest Undermine Middle East Peace Process?

    Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011
    Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Masses of demonstrators continue their protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  Our correspondent looks at whether events in Egypt have any effect on the Middle East peace process involving Israelis and Palestinians.

    Just days after being inaugurated president of the United States on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama named former Senator George Mitchell as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East.  Mitchell’s negotiating skills were well documented, as he helped mediate the 1998 Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland.  His appointment by Mr. Obama was seen as a strong signal that the United States was committed to getting negotiations started again between Israelis and Palestinians.  

    But more than two years after Mitchell’s appointment, analysts say the peace process is going nowhere.

    Fawaz Gerges is with the London School of Economics:

    "There is no peace process.  The peace process is dead, and we know why the peace process is dead," Gerges said. "Let us be blunt about it.  President Barack Obama invested considerable political capital in trying to nudge the Palestinians and the Israelis into a comprehensive peace settlement, trying to broker a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Let us not fudge the issue.  The issue is the Israeli side is unwilling to basically freeze settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem - even partial settlements."

    The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has made it clear it will not negotiate with Israel so long as it continues to build settlements in occupied territory.

    Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft says both sides are intransigent.

    "On the Israeli side, they are clearly not prepared to stop building settlements, which are a threat to a two-state solution," Scowcroft said. "On the Arab side, there is increasing agitation to abandon a two-state solution, which will be a catastrophe for Israel."

    Many analysts say the current upheaval in Egypt has nothing to do with the stalled Middle East peace process.

    Daniel Kurtzer was a former U.S. ambassador to both Egypt and Israel.

    "The peace process has been in some crisis anyway before this outbreak in Egypt," Kurtzer said. "The administration has been trying for two years to get some traction for negotiations and has not really succeeded.  So at the moment, I think the events in Egypt simply exacerbate the problem that the peace process is facing.  And certainly they do not make it easier to envisage negotiations in the short term."

    Former senior State Department official Aaron David Miller, who is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says events in Egypt present a sort of silver lining for President Obama.

    "In a way, in an odd way, the administration has been saved by developments in Egypt because at least for the short term, they do not have to think about a strategy toward the peace process," Miller said. "It is stuck - and there is very little that the Obama administration right now is able or willing to do about it."

    Looking at Israeli-Egyptian relations, experts such as Fawaz Gerges say one cause for concern, especially for Israel, is what kind of government will emerge in Egypt to replace President Hosni Mubarak?  And will it abide by the 1979 peace treaty signed between the two countries?

    "If I were to look at it from an Israeli point of view, one of the major lessons that emerges, so far, out of the Egyptian drama, is that as long as there is no peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel will never feel secure," Gerges said. "That is - by relying on one man, that is Mubarak, or one man, the late President Anwar Sadat, Israel’s security is more of short term as opposed to the long term."

    In the final analysis, many experts believe whatever government comes out of the upheaval in Egypt will abide by the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora